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Rated: 18+ · Fiction · Religious · #2175926
This is the first part of my first novel.
It is a wise father who knows his child. But maybe it's a very wise child who takes time to know his Father.

         "God, Martin, you're such a fucking idiot."
         As usual, Martin Anders' wife, Deborah, was being uncivilized and critical of everything Martin did. Martin once again realized it was a mistake to take her out anywhere to eat. She didn't deserve the olive branch he was offering. She didn't treat him with any respect, so why should he waste any of his time or money trying to at least develop a platonic relationship? To put it simply, she was a bitch. In her favor, she was still beautiful despite the fact that she was nearing forty years old. She had long, curly black hair and the face of a dove. However, her looks didn't matter too much since they never did anything sexual with each other anymore. The two of them had an open relationship and were only staying together for the sake of their two sons.
         When he first met Deborah, she was working as a cocktail waitress in Pasadena, California. At least at that point she was very rarely bitchy. However, even then, she was a vocal atheist. These days, she could never resist the urge to talk shit to Martin for believing in God.
         "Shit; you even ordered spaghetti and meatballs; you fucking idiot Pastafarian."
         Martin sighed. He was very angry with himself that he told her about the mythical spaghetti and meatballs god. He only told it to her as a joke, and she purposely brought up the fictitious god and claimed Martin legitimately believed in the thing. "We've been over this before. I don't believe in a flying spaghetti monster. Besides, belief in the spaghetti monster contradicts Intelligent Design. In regards to God, I obviously will never know His nature, but I am certain He exists."
         "Yeah, you think God exists because you are a naive motherfucker. Grow up."
         "I am being a grown up; if I were as immature as you, then I'd be a vocal atheist like you."
         "Fucking retard," Deborah began to eat more of her chicken Alfredo; she had barely eaten anything that night.
         "Let's change the subject. How are Matthew and Joseph? I barely get any chances to talk to them cause of work."
         "I think Matthew is hiding a girlfriend. I'm at least relieved he didn't turn out to be a faggot."
         "How do you know?" Martin asked.
         "The last time she came over to hang out with him, he got flustered when I told him she was at the front door. I know he's been spending a lot of time with this one girl."
         "Good for him; I never had a girlfriend when I was twelve years old. What about Joseph?"
         "I'm a little worried Joseph has been stealing my cigarettes. I would ground him, but then I'd feel like a hypocrite since I started smoking at a young age, too. I don't really care that much, but I know you don't approve of anyone smoking: especially your own son."
         "Crap; I'll have to have another lecture about lung cancer the next chance I get to talk to him one-on-one. Cigarette smoking is the number one preventable cause of death out there." Martin made a mental note to discuss the dangers of cigarette smoking the next opportunity he had with Joseph.
         "By the way, when are you going to retire from your insurance company? We have plenty of money; if you retire, you will have more time to spend with our sons."
         "I'm only forty-two; I have many years ahead of me." As he said this, he felt that he was telling a blatant lie. He was still active and energetic, but he was worried that his body would begin to deteriorate and he would need to live in a nursing home. It was like that with both of his parents. However, instead of just wasting away physically, they also lost their minds to senility. The idea that he would end up just like his parents terrified him.
         "Here's something else going on with Matthew; he's been checking out books on philosophy from the school library. I don't know why he wastes time doing that. I thought he was smart enough to not believe in God or your spaghetti monster."
         "You don't have to be a theist to appreciate philosophy."
         "Yes, but the vast majority of them suggest the world is all a dream or that you are in actuality God on Earth or some other bullshit."
         Martin sighed again. "I'm going to use the restroom."
         Martin walked through the busy Italian restaurant and went to the restroom. After he finished emptying his bladder, he took a very good look at himself in the mirror. Martin had short brown hair and brown eyes. He had grown out a beard to make himself look more distinguished. Though you couldn't tell from looking at him in his suit, he was fairly muscular. He used to look a lot more athletic, but his recent work schedule gave him very few opportunities to work out. His only significant physical flaw was his height; he was only five foot seven inches tall. After staring at his reflection for over a couple of minutes, he went back to his table.
         Deborah had finished her chicken Alfredo. "By the way, my mother's birthday is coming up. Are you going to attend her party next Saturday?"
         Martin felt uneasy; he hated his mother-in-law. "I don't think I should. She fucking hates me and you know it."
         "Well, I felt it was appropriate since Matthew and Joseph are both going."
         "Fine, I'll go." Martin decided right there that he would make up some kind of work related excuse to not have to see Deborah's mother.
         Deborah then asked, "What are you going to get her?"
         Martin was beginning to feel frustrated. "I dunno; how about a gift card?"
         "Ok, but for how much? I don't want your present to be more expensive than mine."
         "Then buy it yourself and just put my name on it."
         At that point the waitress that was serving them came up to their table. "How are you two doing? Would you like the check now?"
         Martin then answered cheerfully, "Yes; and can I get a box to go?"
         Deborah once again made her hateful bitchiness apparent. "What are you, a fucking pussy? My plate was much bigger and I finished all of it."
         Martin was getting frustrated and focused on the waitress. "Also, do you have any gags so I don't have to listen to this shrew?"
         The waitress smiled. "Sorry; no gags. Here's your check."
         "And here's my credit card."
         After a couple of minutes of Deborah's silent fury, the waitress returned with the check, credit card, and box. The meal came out to fifty-four dollars and Martin left a fifty dollar tip. He also wrote his phone number on the check.
         "Are you ready?" Deborah asked.
         As usual, the weather in California was close to perfect. It was night-time but it was still warm enough that it was unnecessary to carry a jacket. As Martin and Deborah walked down the busy streets that night towards their parking garage, they noticed many people in their twenties being drunk and merry. Martin felt bad that he had squandered his youth with work and Deborah. At one point they had a good relationship and enjoyed each other's company. Now, they could barely talk to each other without getting into an argument.
         "By the way, I want some tea. Can we go here and get some?" Deborah asked.
         "Why didn't you just order tea from the restaurant we were at?"
         "Because they don't serve tea there, you dumb motherfucker."
         "Fine; I'll just wait out here while you get your fucking tea."
         Deborah went into the coffee and tea shop and was behind many people in line. As Martin stood outside, he noticed a very young blond man with a beard walking down the street passing out flyers. This man approached Martin and handed him a flyer.
         "Hello. This Friday night our church is having a meet and greet at this building that's just down the street."
         Martin looked at the flier. It said, "Church of Sol Invictus." The flier also had a drawing of a bright yellow sun, which Martin guessed might be the symbol of this church.
         "The Church of Sol Invictus? This is the first time I've ever heard of them. I believe 'invictus' means invincible?" Martin asked.
         "That's right. Our church worships the one and only true God. It's the same God the Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship. As you may know, our sun is synonymous with God."
         "Hmm, this is interesting. I happen to believe in God, but every religion I've tried to become a member of has been filled with hypocrites. The hypocrisy of Christianity infuriates me."
         "Well, everyone in our church is much more respectful and there are very few hypocrites."
         "My name's Martin. What's yours?"
         "Well Billy; what else does your religion believe in?"
         "We don't believe in Jesus or any of the other prophets. In fact, we have a joke about the origin of Jesus. 'The Catholics invented Jesus; they set Jesus up to be crucified; and to this day they are still eating His flesh and blood.'"
         Martin smiled. He liked that joke. "What is the structure of your religion?"
         "There are three levels. The entry level is obviously where you'll start. The next level is when you live in a commune with other devout members. We believe God gave us our bodies to perform humble labor. The money earned from growing crops goes toward financing our religion. The third level is the inner circle of administrators."
         "Who founded your religion?"
         "There are many rumors and myths that address that question. In one of the wackier rumors, our religion was founded by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov. In actuality, our religion is barely a year old."
         "Wait a minute; your religion doesn't believe in fricken aliens like Scientology, right?"
         "No, of course not. We don't even believe in angels and other supernatural beings. This world is filled with just three types of beings: God, mankind, and the animals that are ours to domesticate."
         Deborah then exited the coffee and tea shop with a large cup of tea. "Who is this?" Deborah asked Martin.
         "Hi; my name's Billy. I'm passing out flyers for my church. On Friday there's going to be-"
         Deborah then interjected: "Fuck off, Billy. I'm not interested in your fucking church."
         "Deborah, please try to be a human for once; this church is appealing to me since they don't waste any time on Jesus and the other prophets."
         "I'm guessing they still worship the same fucking spaghetti monster you believe in."
         Billy, who hadn't been rattled at all by Deborah's intent to be confrontational, continued to explain what his religion had to offer.
         "In regards to the spaghetti monster, we naturally don't believe in that. We believe God is incorporeal."
         Deborah snorted. "Have you ever heard of the word 'evolution?' It means all religion is bullshit. You can learn more about the world from reading a high school biology textbook than the entire Bible."
         Martin then decided to put himself in the middle of the action. "I'm sorry my bitch wife is saying these things, Billy. But I will definitely show up Friday night to hear what you guys have to say."
         "Good; you won't be disappointed," responded Billy.
         Deborah laughed. "In my opinion, every religion is disappointing. After all, there's no God, Satan, or afterlife. If you were capable of thinking for yourself, you would see that I am right."
         Martin had some free time the next day after work and he decided to call up some of his friends to see if he could get one of them to go with him to see what the Church of Sol Invictus was about. He didn't want to go alone. His first friend he called was his contractor, Bernard.
         "Hey, Bernard?"
         "Yeah, what's going on, Martin?"
         "What are you doing Friday night?"
         "I was going to go to AA."
         "Can you get out of it? I'm going to a meeting of a new church named the Church of Sol Invictus and I wanted to go with someone."
         "That's too bad; I have to go since my wife is getting her chip for six months of sobriety. Besides, we're going to have cake."
         "Alright; never mind."
         The next person Martin called was his friend Jason that was good at fixing computers.
         "Hey, Jason, how are you?"
         "I'm fine, Martin. Did your PC break again?"
         "No; this is a social call."
         "Ok, so what's going on?"
         "I'm going to a gathering of a new church called 'the Church of Sol Invictus.' I need someone to go with me. It's Friday night."
         "Why don't you ask your wife?"
         Martin wasn't sure if Jason was being serious.
         "Haven't you met Deborah? She's a bitch. And she's an atheist. I bet it would be easier to get her to go to a strip club than to go somewhere that's religious."
         "Well, I'm sorry to say I'm busy Friday night. Maybe next time."
         "Shit; ok, sorry to bother you."
         The next friend Martin called was his friend Sonny, who was white and in his mid-thirties. Sonny was the manager of a Chinese food restaurant, The Great Wall Chinese Food, that Martin and Deborah both enjoyed.
         "Hey, Sonny; it's Martin."
         "Oh, hey. What's up?"
         "Are you busy Friday night? I'm going to a meeting of a new church and need to go with someone."
         "What kind of church?"
         "They call themselves 'the Church of Sol Invictus.' I barely know anything about them."
         "Hmm... Honestly, Martin, I don't think you should get involved with those people. They seem like a cult."
         "So you have heard of them?"
         "Yeah. They have the same MO as Scientology. They make you dish out hundreds of dollars for therapy. I've heard that the inner circle of their church practices animal sacrifice. I'm not fucking around with you when I say you shouldn't waste any of your time or money on those fucks."
         "Well, thanks for the advice, Sonny. But it's only going to be the first time I've gone there. I should be ok."
         "Ok; but don't say nobody warned you later."
         It was the same with every friend Martin called. He considered taking either Matthew or Joseph, but he decided against it. He wanted to go with a man so he could try to talk to and start dating an attractive woman. This wouldn't work out if he had to chaperone one of his sons.

         The meeting was held in a medium-sized auditorium. There was enough space for about eighty people. There were numerous fold-up tables which were perpendicular to the stage that the speakers would stand upon. At the back of the auditorium was a table that had coffee and cinnamon rolls. Martin looked around but didn't see any women that were there by themselves. He then decided to talk to one of the men that was somewhat close to his age. He saw an overweight white man in a suit that was looking at something on his phone. This man seemed to be at least sixty. Martin decided to approach the man.
         "Hi. My name's Martin. This is the first time I've been to one of these meetings."
         The man smiled. "Me too."
         "What's your name?"
         "My name's Harry. Harry Winston."
         Martin was confused. He could have sworn he had heard that name before. "What do you do for a living, Harry?"
         "I'm a movie producer. Honestly, it's the best career in the world."
         This was the first time Martin had met anyone that was in the movie making business. Even then he could tell that he would be friends with Harry. "Well, I work insurance claims. I guess it's not as glamorous as being a producer; but it does have its perks."
         "Such as?"
         "Well, I have lots of stories. I've had numerous women come onto me over the years."
         Harry laughed. "I like the way you think. That's the reason I love being a producer. Every woman that wants to make it in my business will sell themselves for a part."
         "So, why did you decide to come to this place?"
         "The networking. There is a movement in my industry that every one of us is supporting this religion or Scientology. It's just a status symbol to see if you're 'with it.' I was expecting a friend to show up, but he backed out at the last minute, so I'm stuck here by myself."
         "Well, in my case, I'm trying to find religion. Every religion I've tried in the past has been a bad experience."
         "Every religion in itself is a bad experience. What matters is who you associate with at that religion."
         Martin and Harry continued to talk until the speakers for the meeting began to address the crowd. The first speaker was an olive skinned man in his thirties.
         "Hello, everyone. My name is Adam. I see many new faces and I'm happy to be able to bring you the message of the Sol Invictus. Though our God is the most worshiped of all of the gods and angels and demons, very few people have a close connection to Him.
         "The easiest way to become closer to God is to simply associate with like-minded people. All of you have just taken the first step toward spiritual enlightenment.
         "Here's another way you can improve yourself in God's eyes: charity. The world today is always rush, rush, rush; but if you can't give us any time, you can always give us money. We don't play any of the games that other religions play. We need money; so if you can contribute, then you should. Also, we have up here many pamphlets and other reading materials. The profits from these sales go directly to our church and allows us to branch out and network to new potential members.
         "Another major aspect of our religion is the upbringing of children. Having children outside of wedlock is definitely frowned upon, but we see children as the future of not only our religion, but of the entire world..."
         As Adam continued to speak, Harry got bored and started to do something with his phone. He then got Martin's attention and showed him a meme from his phone. The meme was a picture of a cowboy and the words "This is Bull."
         The next speaker was a middle-aged woman with long blonde hair, Julia.
         "One of the biggest mysteries in life is the origin of life. They say that the universe began with the Big Bang. But, seriously? A big bang? Everything comes from somewhere. There must be a Prime Mover. The world didn't spontaneously begin by accident or by nature. There is indeed a god, and we call Him the Sol Invictus.
         "Why do we call Him the Sol Invictus? It's because one of the conditions of being alive is that we are frail and weak. Every one of us is capable of being bought and sold. We all have a price. God is different, though. He can't be bought. He can't be negotiated with. He is indeed unconquerable."
         As Julia talked, Harry showed another meme to Martin. This time, it was an angry man saying, "I'll pay you to suck my cock!"
         The third person to speak was a frail elderly man named Aaron.
         "I would like to go over the structure of our religion for those of you who wish to pursue further enlightenment. Just to the north of here we have two hundred square acres of land where we pick crops and work industriously to bring ourselves closer to God. This communal environment is meant to bring structure and stability to your life. To be accepted into the commune, you must prove your devotion through taking part in the talk therapy we offer, and, of course, coming to meetings such as this one. This is all for equality. We strive towards equality. We challenge ourselves to become pure and strong and humble.
         "While living on the commune, we all wear the same white robes. Obviously, when we go out in public, we dress in our street clothes. On the commune, we are equal..."
         Harry once again showed a meme to Martin. This time it was a woman and a man yelling at each other. The woman said, "I want equal rights!" The man said, "Then stop being a whore!"
         After Aaron finished speaking, a small basket was passed around for donations. Martin put in a one hundred dollar bill. Harry didn't put in anything. The meeting then concluded. Martin was surprised that there was neither prayer nor singing.
         "Well, this was a waste," said Harry. "What are you doing tomorrow night? Maybe we could meet at a restaurant and get drunk?"
         "Yeah, I'd like that."
         "Do you mind if we double date? I'm stringing along a girl at the moment; actually I'm stringing along lots of girls, and I don't want her to get the impression I'm ignoring her."
         "Well, I'm married, but my wife's a bitch."
         "If you want, I can hook you up with a girl I know. My contacts on my phone is full of actresses and models that want to make it big."
         "Actually, I'd like that. I haven't hooked up with anyone for a while."
         Martin and Harry exchanged phone numbers and set up a place and time for tomorrow. Martin then walked up to the three speakers and began to speak to Aaron.
         "Hi, Aaron. My name's Martin and I would like to talk about how to proceed with my membership in this religion. Also, I was wondering why there was no prayer nor singing?"
         "Well," Aaron began, "we believe that God's will is unshakable. He can't be reasoned with. Nothing we do can influence God. Thus, prayer is futile."
         "And the singing?"
         "Our church is still very young, though I highly doubt there will be any singing in the future. We don't believe in performing rituals like that. Besides, I would think most people's least favorite part of church is the singing."
         "I beg to differ; I think most people's least favorite part of church is the passing of the collection plate."
         Both men laughed.
         "So, what should I do to become a part of this church?" Martin asked.
         "Ok, I think the first thing to do is to schedule a one on one with one of our counselors. Talk therapy is a major aspect of our religion and it is encouraged that everyone speak to someone at least for one hour per week."
         "Is this psychology or psychiatry?" Martin asked.
         "We aren't allowed to prescribe medicine. We do offer numerous over the counter vitamins and supplements. But the main goal is to get stuff off our chests and be more honest and upright."
         "I would like that. How do I sign up?"
         "We can get you to begin tomorrow. Just show up at this address," Aaron handed Martin a card that had the address of the local office of the Church of Sol Invictus, "and we'll get you paired up with one of our therapists. Also, would you care to purchase one of these booklets talking about our religion?"
         After Aaron handed Martin the card, he influenced Martin to buy thirty dollars' worth of reading material. The booklets and pamphlets had titles such as: "How to be more humble in an egocentric world," "Searching for inner meaning," and "Why we strive toward equality." All of the reading materials had the same bright yellow sun on their covers.
         Martin felt pleased with himself on the drive home. He had made a friend and brought himself closer to having a good relationship with God.

         "What do you mean you're not going!?"
         Deborah and Martin were having another argument in the living room of the one story house they shared. Joseph was watching television, but it was obvious that he wasn't paying attention to it and was focused on the fight his parents were having. Joseph's appearance took more after Deborah than Martin. His facial features were lighter, softer, and his hair was a much closer shade to Deborah's than Martin's. Still, he was clearly Martin's son.
         "Exactly that; I don't want to see your fucking mom."
         Deborah was furious. "But it's her fucking birthday! She won't be alive for much longer!"
         "Good riddance."
         "But it's her birthday!"
         "I thought her birthday was next Tuesday."
         "Um, Mom?" Joseph stammered. "If Dad isn't going, I don't want to go either."
         "Shut up! You're going!"
         Martin then said, "I think Joseph's old enough to decide for himself that seeing your mom is a waste of time. I can see where you got your bitchiness from."
         Deborah slapped Martin. This wasn't the first, and it most likely wasn't the last time that she had struck Martin. It might have bothered most men to be slapped by a woman, but Martin found it humorous.
         "Besides," Martin continued, "I'm not being a complete asshole. She's still getting a one hundred dollar gift card. Though she doesn't deserve it."
         Martin walked out and got into his car and drove to the local office of the Church of Sol Invictus. When he entered the office he saw a pretty secretary at the front desk.
         "Hello. Welcome to the local office of the Church of Sol Invictus. How may I help you?"
         "I'm here to begin talk therapy."
         "Ok," the secretary said cheerfully as she got a clipboard and papers ready for Martin. "Just fill out this questionnaire and then turn it into me. From there, you'll wait in our lounge for a therapist to see you."
         Martin filled out the questionnaire. Most of the questions were just basic questions about one's life: age, marital status, career, etc. The questions about religion were more in depth. These questions asked about what religion one was raised as when a child, if you had ever experienced a supernatural event, and even a question about what you thought a utopian society would be like.
         When Martin finished the questionnaire, he turned it into the secretary. He decided he should try to talk to the secretary to see if he could get a date with her. Her name was Allison and she said she was studying psychiatry. Even though they hit it off, she mentioned she was in a long term relationship with her boyfriend. Allison then directed Martin to a lounge area where four other people were watching cable television while waiting.
         After twenty minutes, a young man with sandy brown hair entered and called out Martin's name.
         "Hi, I'm Martin."
         "Nice to meet you. My name's Trevor."
         The two of them entered a small room that had a metal desk, a couple of chairs, and a long couch.
         "Please make yourself comfortable. Would you like some water or coffee?"
         "No, thank you."
         Trevor and Martin began with small chitchat.
         "I've always lived in Southern California. The only time I left this area was when my wife and I took a vacation to the Bay Area. She's originally from there. I didn't care for all of the gay people. It was still a good trip, though. Back then, Deborah wasn't as much of a bitch as she is these days."
         "Why do you say she's a bitch?"
         "She just stopped showing me any respect. She doesn't care who hears her talking shit. She just tries to make me look bad every chance she gets."
         "What impact has this had on your two sons?"
         "Well, they both are old enough to understand that me and Deborah hate each other. I think they appreciate it that the two of us are trying to give them a good upbringing. But it makes me weary to have to restrain myself from treating Deborah the way she treats me. You think that makes me a bitch, don't you?"
         "No, not at all. I think it's wonderful that you and your wife can put aside your animosity and try to give your sons a nice childhood."
         "Well thanks, but I doubt it's worth the trouble. Matthew's twelve and Joseph is ten. They're smart kids. They know that me and Deborah can't stand being around each other all the time. For fuck's sake we sleep in separate bedrooms."
         "You mentioned you and your wife have an open relationship. How has that affected your children?"
         "Well, I know Deborah's been sleeping around with at least one guy. She actually introduced him to Matthew and Joseph. She probably did that to make me feel like shit. I haven't been in any kind of relationship for the past few months. Just hook ups, you know?"
         "I see. What, if any, relationship are you searching for?"
         "I don't really want to marry again. I'd rather start a relationship with God than any of the women on Earth."
         "That's understandable."
         "You don't think I'm queer or something, do you?"
         "No, no, not at all. When you are alive in a world as evil as this one, you have to open your heart to someone. I can understand your reluctance towards marriage again. So yes, having a better relationship with God is a perfectly understandable desire."
         The conversation then shifted towards Martin's career.
         "So, you work in insurance? What is your role?"
         "I'm in charge of claims. As you know, there's a lot of people that try to take advantage of the situation."
         "Such as...?"
         "Well, there's one psychotic guy who keeps jumping in front of cars and then suing the drivers. His insurance rates are extraordinarily high but he pays it anyway so he can pay his hospital bills. Besides the risk he's taking doing it, he's actually losing money from the rates."
         "I see. What else?"
         "Well, there's been plenty of women who have tried to seduce me so they can get a better deal. I'll admit it; I usually do sleep with those women."
         "Why did you begin working in insurance?"
         "Well, it just sort of happened. As soon as I graduated from high school, I joined the company I work at and have been working at the same place for over twenty years. I make very good money and enjoy what I do."
         "And what does your wife, Deborah, do?"
         "When we first met, she was a cocktail waitress. Now she doesn't do jack shit to help with the bills. But I don't really blame her for it; we have plenty of money."
         "What was it that attracted you to Deborah?"
         "Well, she is smart; I like her sense of humor; we have many things in common, such as favorite movies and music. But that all changed and she expresses her true colors all the time."
         "And what was it that she saw in you?"
         "When we first met, I had already been working at the same company for over five years. So yes, she certainly took finances into consideration. But I think back then she enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed hers."
         Trevor then asked, "Martin, what was the relationship you had with your parents?"
         "My mother was a very good mother, but I didn't like that she was trying to make me into a Protestant. As for my father, it wasn't that he hated me; it's just that he never gave me his approval no matter how hard I tried. And it wasn't that he was emotionally coldhearted either; there were plenty of occasions when he would engage in public displays of affection with my mother."
         "Martin, do you have any anecdotes that will elaborate on your father's relationship to you?"
         "Yeah, here's one: when I was five or six, our elementary school class made cards for Father's Day. I worked really hard on that card. When I showed it to him, he said, 'That's nice.' Later, I found the card in the trash."
         At that point, an alarm started making small little beeps.
         "I'm sorry, Martin, but that's one full hour. Do you still feel like talking?"
         "I would like to, but I'm meeting a friend for drinks soon. But I really am enjoying everything about this church and I would like to continue. Can we schedule to do this again next Saturday?"
         "Yes, next Saturday would be appropriate. In regards to payment, you owe seventy dollars."
         "Ok, that's fine."
         And so Martin paid for the hour and scheduled another hour for next Saturday.
         Martin went to the restaurant that he was going to meet Harry. Outside the restaurant was Harry and a beautiful brunette girl in a red dress; she was absolutely gorgeous. They were both smoking cigarettes.
         "Ah, Martin, this is Miranda."
         The girl smiled and gave Martin a hug and a kiss. "It's nice to meet you. Harry said you two met yesterday at a church meeting. While that does seem interesting, I don't have any patience with religion."
         Harry then said, "I don't have the patience for it either. It's just in our business everyone is joining these new religions that just sprout out of nowhere."
         Martin then said, "Yeah, I just got done with one of their therapy sessions. I had to dish out seventy bucks."
         "Shit, a therapy session for seventy dollars? Did the therapist at least give you a massage?" Miranda asked.
         "The therapist was a man."
         "I know you're straight, but if I were you I would have demanded a blow job for seventy dollars."
         "Anyway," Harry stated, "the girl I called up to see you, Blanche, is running late. She's kind of an idiot, so I guess she's having trouble finding the place."
         "That's fine; I'm in no hurry. I'd rather spend the night with you than at my mother-in-law's birthday party."
         Miranda playfully punched Martin in the arm. "Aha! You're married."
         "Yes, but me and my wife have an open relationship."
         "Do you two ever sleep with each other?"
         "Nope. We sleep in separate bedrooms."
         "Um, why are you two living with each other then?"
         "We have two sons. We both agree to put up with each other for their sake."
         Harry smiled. "One thing I'm grateful to God for is that I don't have any kids out there. Then again, I suppose it's possible that I might have one or two bastards out there."
         Miranda giggled. "You know, there's been a recent invention out there called the condom. Have you heard of it? If you're worried about bastards, then you should wear one."
         Harry laughed. "Fuck that; that's why they have the pill."
         "Yes, but even those aren't one hundred percent."
         "So, Miranda" Martin interrupted, "how do you and Harry know each other?"
         Miranda smiled. "I'm trying to make it big as an actress. I will die a happy woman if I can see myself on the big screen."
         "Well, you're certainly beautiful enough."
         "Thank you," Miranda said as she flirted back by touching Martin's arm.
         "Ah!" Harry exclaimed. "Blanche is here."
         A beautiful brunette girl with an olive complexion came up to Harry and gave him a hug. She was wearing a tight fitting blue dress.
         "Martin, this is Blanche. She's also trying to be an actress. Recently, she modeled for a cheap magazine."
         Blanche gave Martin a hug. "Harry said you two met yesterday at a meeting of the Church of Sol Invictus? What's that like?"
         Harry said, "It's all bullshit."
         "Well, I figured that much, but I wanted Martin's opinion."
         "Honestly," Martin began, "it's the best religion I've been a part of so far. Then again, I've only been part of their scene for a whole day. However, I'm grateful I started going since that's how I met Harry."
         "So you actually like it?" Blanche said with skepticism.
         "Sheesh; and people call me a dummy."
         Martin gave Blanche a dirty look.
         Blanche smiled. "Don't worry; I still like you."
         Martin automatically assumed she liked him because of his money.
         "Anyway," Miranda said, "I'm getting hungry. And I need a drink. Can we go inside now?"
         The party of four entered the restaurant and after a short wait they got a booth together.
         "Let's start with a round of shots," Harry said.
         The four of them began taking shots of tequila and ordered spicy buffalo wings as an appetizer. Even though she was small and petite, Blanche started to drink a lot more than even Harry and Martin. She got drunk first and was slurring her speech. She kept flirting with Martin by touching his arm repeatedly and sitting as close as she could to him.
         Blanche then said, "I need to use the lady's room. Are you coming, Miranda?"
         "Yeah, ok."
         The two of them got up and went to the restroom together.
         "Hmm. Miranda seems nice," Martin said to Harry.
         "Yeah, but I feel a little bad for her. She's actually lived a really hard life. Hard for a woman, anyway."
         "What do you mean?"
         "Well, the best way to describe her is to just say that she's an attention whore. She is the baby of a family of five or six kids. Her next younger sibling is five years older than she is. She told me a sad story, which might not actually be true but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt on, about what happened when she tried to make up a puppet show for her family when she was five years old. Basically, she got some colorful socks and sewed yarn on them for hair. She then got those googly eyes that are on stuffed animals and wrote her own little script. In the puppet show, a man that had gone to war for two years finally got to return to his wife. When he did, his wife gleefully said that she had just recently given birth to twins; his twins. Everyone in her family laughed their asses off at her. One of her brothers even called her a fucking retard, which she is, but still. She started crying and they refused to explain the mistake she made. She had to ask her friends at school what the problem was."
         "Sheesh, that's pretty bad. You're supposed to compliment and praise your kids so they don't end up with low self-esteem."
         "Exactly. Then there's what happened when she tried out for a play in high school. As you might have guessed, she joined the drama club and auditioned for a play. She was chosen as the understudy for the female lead. As you may know, when a school has a play, the understudies get to perform the play once. She was so excited and really wanted to perform. Unfortunately, the play got so many rotten reviews and people demanding a refund that they didn't even bother to let the understudies perform. She insisted that she could do a good job, but the people running it didn't give a shit. They said her acting was even worse than the lead's was, so they weren't even going to humor her. That also was a crushing blow for her self-esteem and made her really upset."
         "What about Blanche? She seems like a big drinker."
         "Oh, she does more than just drink. I'm willing to bet she has some crack in her car. If you're into that kind of thing, then Blanche is perfect for you."
         "Don't take this the wrong way, but I don't like it when people do drugs. Even cigarette smoking bothers me."
         "Well, everyone has their own personal vice. Mine is women. It's so easy to take advantage of girls like Miranda and Blanche. In regards to you, it seems your vice is that you want to find religion. I don't hold it against you, but I wouldn't waste my time trying to be a devout member of a church."
         "I don't consider trying to find religion a vice. If anything, it's a virtue."
         "No; it's a social club. While there are good things about social clubs, there's also the negatives. Same with vices; there's both good things and bad things. Things that appeal to us selfishly that have negative side effects are vices."
         "Ok, I see your point. Anyway, what else should I know about Blanche?"
         Harry smiled. "Well, here's a story about Blanche. I have a friend that's also in this business. Let's call him Mister X. Mister X has a friend; we'll call the friend Mister Y. Blanche gave Mister X a sealed letter and said it was from Mister Y. The letter said that Blanche was willing to do anything, and I do mean anything, for a part. Later, Mister X found out from Mister Y that he hadn't written any letters like that."
         "Wait a minute; that sounds familiar..."
         "To Die For with Nicole Kidman."
         Martin laughed.
         "Wow. I bet you have shitloads of stories about the business."
         "You're right; I do. Do you know what happens on a star's birthday?"
         "No, what?"
         "Basically, on a star's birthday, the star has to give everyone on set, everyone that wants one that is, a fucking blow job. This includes the male celebrities, too. Even back in Shakespeare's day the stars were prostitutes."
         Martin was a little skeptical about hearing that one; still, he continued the conversation instead of questioning Harry.
         "Shit; I could never be a celebrity."
         "I wouldn't be hasty saying that. Remember what that woman said yesterday? Everyone has a price. Everyone."
         Miranda and Blanche then returned. Blanche was having difficulty keeping her balance. As Harry and Miranda were talking about something business related, Blanche started to whisper something in Martin's ear. Without warning, she stuck her tongue in his ear.
         "I'm bored; do you want to come over to my place?" she whispered,
         Martin simply started facing her and nodded.
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